News and Analysis


Elliott School of International Affairs

The Colombian ambassador to the U.S. talked about peace in the country at an Elliott School event Tuesday. Max Sall | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The Colombian ambassador to the U.S. talked about peace in the country at an Elliott School event Tuesday. Max Sall | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Mabel Kabani.

Juan Carlos Pinzon, Colombia’s ambassador to the U.S., spoke with students and faculty members at the Elliott School of International Affairs Tuesday evening about Colombia’s transformation from unrest to peace.

As the former senior adviser to the executive director of the World Bank, Pinzon said he is familiar with D.C. and GW, specifically. He began his speech highlighting the benefits of attending a university in the U.S. capital.

Pinzon introduced basic facts about Colombia and then discussed the country’s recent political, economic and social transformation.

Here are some highlights from the ambassador’s talk:

1. Colombia’s decline

Although the Barometer of Happiness and Hope once ranked Colombia as the happiest nation in the world due to its “long-lasting democracy,” Pinzon said crime rates, homicides and drug trafficking made the country less peaceful about 20 years ago.

Around the same time, Colombia’s economy also began to destabilize and people fled the country in search of safer and more stable lifestyles, Pinzon said. Unemployment rates reached 21 percent and the country had negative GDP growth in the 1990’s.

“The entire social tissue of the nation was collapsing as opportunities to progress ran out,” Pinzon said.

2.’Plan Colombia’

“Plan Colombia,” a U.S. diplomatic and military project to battle drug cartels and guerrilla groups in Colombia, spurred real progress for the country, Pinzon said.

The program was successful because it secured and legitimized Colombian armed forces and strengthened the justice system, he said.

“This was critical to help us build development that is important for years to come,” Pinzon said.

3. Peace process

Pinzon said that Colombia’s current president, Juan Manuel Santos, has consistently pushed for peace: He wrote a peace accord that won him the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. The peace accord, which citizens recently voted against, called to include members of FARC  – the most notorious guerrilla group – in Colombia’s parliament.

Santos thought this would give Colombia the chance for a new future, Pinzon said. Though the accord didn’t pass, it did “instill a new ideology in the minds of Colombians” about what it takes to achieve peace, he added.

4. Recent improvements

Twenty years ago, about 30,000 homicides occurred in a year, but now the homicide rate in Colombia has dropped to 13,000 per year, Pinzon said. He added that the number of rebel group members has dropped, and kidnapping numbers are lower than they have been in 20 years.

Pinzon said Colombia has been recognized as one of the top economic performers internationally and the country has been left out of the University of Mexico’s annual list of most violent countries in recent years.

“Things aren’t easy or fast and there is no timeline for when this will be over,” Pinzon said. “However, here is an opportunity for the end to finally result in a more stable, long term and extended peace.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments
OAS Assistant Secretary General, H.E. Nestor Mendez, speaks about a "hemispheric mission" for the OAS. Anne McBride | Hatchet Staff Photographer

OAS Assistant Secretary General, H.E. Nestor Mendez, speaks about a “hemispheric mission” for the OAS. Anne McBride | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Elizabeth Georgakopoulos.

Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States H.E. Nestor Mendez spoke to students, faculty and members of the Elliott School of the International Affairs Tuesday night about the OAS mission of promoting a “hemispheric agenda” for the western hemisphere.

As an alumnus, Mendez is no stranger to GW, receiving his master’s degree from the Elliott School in international policy and practice. Before his OAS position, he served as the ambassador of Belize to the United States and worked on issues that affected regions like the Caribbean and South America.

“The main goal is and has always been to ensure that any decision reached would have a positive impact on the lives of the people of the Americas,” Mendez said of the OAS.

As the world’s oldest regional organization and only hemispheric institute, the OAS has had an extensive history in serving in the Latin American community, Mendez said. He added that their mission was founded upon four main pillars, all of which are of equal importance.

Here’s what he said about those pillars and how they’ve fit into OAS’s mission over the years.

1. Democracy

While protecting and stabilizing democracy, the OAS has been heavily involved with observing electoral processes and deals with many complex and sensitive political problems, Mendez said. The Electoral Observation Mission initiative was founded as a response to these issues in Latin America.

“It has become a key instrument in the promotion and defense of democracy,” Mendez said.

The creation of these institutions came about to ensure the integrity and credibility of electoral processes within these countries, he added.

2. Human rights

Mendez said in order for a member state to produce a stable and peaceful democracy, fundamental human rights must be respected. The creation of two institutions, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, ensures the protection of the people of the Americas, he said.

“Both provide recourse to citizens who have suffered violations of their rights by the state,” Mendez said.

3. Multidimensional security

The OAS has taken measures in controlling security matters involving terrorism and crime in the region, Mendez said. OAS is involved in multiple public service initiatives like increasing law enforcement, offering training programs and implementing preventative strategies like job creation and improving access to education, he said.

Mendez said that OAS’s specialization is not only in reducing crime, but also in providing resources to victims.

“It is worth noting that last year alone, support was provided to more than 140 Colombian, Peruvian, and Ecuadorian victims to assist them with their physical and psychological rehabilitation and socio economic reintegration,” Mendez said.

4. Internal development

Poverty, inequality, migration and water resources are just a few of the issues that need to be addressed in Latin America, Mendez said. The OAS has two primary roles in fostering change in this region: Engaging in a dialogue with member states to push for cooperation, and forging a consensus on how to address the problems at hand, he added.

One response to the heightened trends of immigration and poverty is the creation of the Continuous Reporting System on International Immigration in the Americas, which Mendez said is the only hemispheric benchmark that provides information on migration flows and regulatory frameworks of programs and policies in the hemisphere.

Other initiatives in place in Latin America include the implementation of partnership between member states, in regards to climate change, and water diplomacy, he said.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Monday, Jan. 11, 2016 10:49 a.m.

Internet and phone service outages reported

Updated: Jan. 11, 2016 at 1:15 p.m.

The Division of Information Technology reported phone and Internet service interruptions in multiple locations Monday morning.

Students and faculty in Old Main, Thurston Hall, Alumni House, 1959 E Street and the Elliott School of International Affairs building were not able to access phone, Internet and wireless services, according to an 8 a.m. service alert on the division’s website.

“We are currently investigating, and working to resolve this issue as soon as possible,” the alert reads.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said service was restored to all buildings except Alumni House, where the Office of Alumni Relations is housed, by 10:30 a.m. and she attributed the service interruption to “an unforeseen technical issue.”

“Service was interrupted because of an unforeseen technical issue. As soon as we identified the issue, technicians worked quickly to restore service. By 10:30 a.m. all buildings but the Alumni House were operational, with Alumni House expected to have full service restored by early afternoon,” she said.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
The Elliott School received about $2.5 million in Carnegie Grants. Hatchet file photo by Katie Causey

The Elliott School received about $2.5 million in Carnegie Grants. Hatchet file photo by Katie Causey, Photo Editor.

Four faculty members at the Elliott School of International Affairs received Carnegie Grants totaling nearly $2.5 million, according to a University release.

Charlie Glaser, Henry Hale, Marc Lynch and Janne Nolan, all professors of international affairs, earned the grants to support projects on Eurasian studies, Middle Eastern politics, bipartisan nuclear security solutions and nuclear policies toward China, respectively.

Reuben Brigety, the dean of the Elliott School who began his tenure last month, said in the release that these awards demonstrate the schools position “as the preeminent place to create policy-relevant research.”

“We look forward to continuing our joint efforts to connect the school’s research, and that of the broader academic community, to policymakers around the world,” Brigety said.

Hale, the co-director of the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia, received $800,000 to develop security and policy approaches in Russia and Eurasia, and plans to use the grant to understand and come up with possible solutions to the Russia-Ukraine war, the Syrian crisis and U.S.-Russia relations.

Glaser will put $450,000 from Carnegie toward a series of articles on U.S.-China nuclear relations. Nolan received a $530,000 to also fund a group of experts on nuclear relations.

The Carnegie Corporation renewed its funding of the Institute for Middle East Studies, which Lynch runs, with a $700,000.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Dean Rueben E. Brigety II laid out his plans for the Elliott School of International Affairs Thursday. Paige James | Hatchet Photographer

Dean Rueben E. Brigety II laid out his plans for the Elliott School of International Affairs Thursday. Paige James | Hatchet Photographer

When it comes to strengthening international affairs education, Reuben E. Brigety II is starting with the man in the mirror at his new task at hand – leading the Elliott School of International Affairs.

Brigety spoke to faculty, administrators and students Thursday, his first official day on the job as dean. The former U.S. representative to the African Union was hired in August.

Here are the main takeaways of Brigety’s vision for the future of the Elliott School:

1. Building leaders for the world

Brigety started the event by showing the music video of Michael Jackson’s hit song “Man in the Mirror,” saying the specific crises shown in the video have changed since its creation in 1987, but the world still needs leaders to solve international problems.

“What the daunting challenges of today have in common with those seemingly impossible challenges of the past, is that their resolutions require leaders,” he said. “Leaders who have knowledge, leaders with skills, leaders with character. And that is why we are here to build leaders. To build leaders for the world.”

Brigety said he will take an already high-ranked international affairs school and “place it firmly” among the most elite institutions by asking those in the school to work together even more than they already are doing.

2. Taking a STEP forward

Brigety said his goals for his tenure as dean of the Elliott School are to be as “collaborative and transparent as possible” by focusing on STEP: scholarship, teaching, ethics and practice.

He promised to promote scholarship in the school by providing resources for tenured and non-tenured faculty to achieve success in their research, and acquire scholarship grants.

Brigety recognized research as important to the Elliott School, but its “heart and its soul” lies in its students, which is why he will emphasize quality teaching. He said he encourages faculty to meet with students outside of class, like he did when he was a professor at George Mason and American universities.

“I regularly met students for music and coffee in sessions I called ‘jazz with Dr. B,'” Brigety said. “I hope to institute similar sessions here on Foggy Bottom, so students, be on the lookout for ‘jazz with Dean B.'”

He also plans to strengthen the application of ethics to international affairs during his tenure, so students can not only know about relations with other countries, but also how best to create those relationships.

3. Remembering names

“How do you plan to remember all these people’s names?” Brigety’s son asked during a question and answer session.

Brigety said his priority, especially at the beginning of his tenure this fall, is to get to know and collaborate with as many stakeholders in the Elliott School as possible.

He has already set up a series of meetings over the next month to get to know faculty and students, and even has a coffee date planned for Thursday afternoon with a dozen students.

Brigety is also scheduled to travel internationally in November to meet with donors and potential students.

4. A future in Africa

Brigety promised in increased concentration on African affairs in the school by creating an institute for African studies, an area that faculty have said needs attention.

“By the time it’s done, it will be the place, certainly in Washington, if not in the country to do African-related policy and research. That’s how strongly I feel about it,” Brigety said.

He said he’s open to debate on who will lead the program and the specifics of what the program will be, but he wants to get it under way “sooner rather than later.”

Brigety served as the U.S. representative to the African Union and also worked as a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of African Affairs and in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. He said a knowledge of Africa is essential for anyone working in international affairs today.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

The U.S. representative to the African Union will be the new dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs, the University announced Monday.

Reuben E. Brigety II will take the helm from former long-serving dean Michael Brown, who stepped down from the post at the end of June.

Brigety is also the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. He previously served as a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of African Affairs and in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, according to a release. In those positions, he oversaw southern African and regional security affairs as well as U.S. refugee programs in Africa, developed international migration policies and managed humanitarian diplomacy.

Brigety cited his past field work in regions from the Middle East to the Caribbean as showing that he can combine his scholarly work with practical experience, a combination experts have said will be essential for the new dean to have.

“I believe young people come to the Elliott School because they want to engage with the hardest challenges of our time. Our job is to prepare them both intellectually and practically to make the world a better place, and that’s what I’m excited to do in this new position,” Brigety said in a statement.

Brigety will begin on Oct. 1, and interim dean Hugh Agnew will continue serve in the position through the transition.

Brigety was chosen as one of three top candidates by a search committee made up of Elliott School faculty and students before being selected by University President Steven Knapp and Provost Lerman this summer.

“Ambassador Brigety is an outstanding leader whose vision and experience will raise the Elliott School’s already prominent reputation in international affairs education, policy and research,” Knapp said in a release. “I look forward to working with him on strengthening our existing programs and research, as well as exploring new opportunities that will enhance our students’ GW experience.”

The former U.S. navy officer has previously taught government and politics at George Mason University and peer school American University and conducted research missions in Iraq and Afghanistan for the Human Rights Watch. He has also worked at the Center for American Progress, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Central Command Assessment team in D.C. and in Doha, Qatar.

Brigety is the 10th black official named to a top post at GW since 2010.

He will lead one of the top-ranked international affairs schools in the country, often described as the “crown jewel” of GW’s schools. Under Brown’s 10-year tenure, the school doubled its number of research institutes and brought on about 20 new faculty members, and has consistently been highly ranked by publications such as Foreign Affairs magazine.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

A longtime faculty member of the Elliott School of International Affairs will take over the position of the school’s interim dean next month, according to a University release.

Hugh Agnew, a professor of history and international affairs and the senior associate dean for academic and faculty affairs at the Elliott School, will start his role as interim dean July 1, Provost Steven Lerman announced to the school’s faculty and GW leadership Friday. Agnew will continue in the position until a permanent replacement is announced for dean Michael Brown, who officially steps down from the post on the same date.

Agnew, who came to GW in 1988, said in an interview Monday that he is “humbled” by the appointment and will continue his current duties at the Elliott School while fulfilling the dean’s responsibilities. His plans for the summer include welcoming new faculty arriving at the school for the academic year and maintaining the “rhythm of the school” until the new dean takes over.

“I see my role as carrying this accomplishment into the new hands of the new dean without dropping it,” Agnew said.

Agnew has previously served as associate dean for academic programs and associate dean for faculty affairs at the school. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses primarily focused on eastern Europe, and has written extensively on Czech nationalism.

Brown announced in October that he would leave the dean post at the end of the academic year but would continue in a faculty role at the school. Since then, a dean search committee made up of Elliott School students and faculty vetted candidates and brought them to campus before sending on their top three unranked choices to Lerman and University President Steven Knapp, who will make the final appointment. That announcement is expected to come at some point over the coming weeks although the process can sometimes take longer, search committee chair Jennifer Brinkerhoff said in an email earlier this month.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Graduate students celebrate the end of the Elliott School of International Affairs Graduation Ceremony in the Smith Center. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

Graduate students celebrate the end of the Elliott School of International Affairs Graduation Ceremony in the Smith Center. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

What does former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher, former President of Iraq Saddam Hussein and Bruce Springsteen have in common?

They were all mentioned at the Elliott School of International Affairs Celebration Friday afternoon. Speakers at the commencement ceremony held in the Smith Center called upon graduates to not only be leaders in their occupations, but to be positive forces whether their dreams come true or not.

Michael Brown, the dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs, told graduates that as students of The Elliott School, they should have “multi-dream capabilities.”

“If your dream doesn’t come true, get a good night’s sleep and dream another dream,” he said. The ceremony also marked the last time Brown would address the audience as dean.

The  graduates left the building as Springsteen’s “Born to Run” played over the speakers.

1. The city is your cubicle

Nicolas Pedreira, an international affairs major from Argentina, highlighted a few lessons he learned during his four years at GW and spoke about his fellow graduates’ experience interning in the District. He also joked about the impermanence of their work spaces.

“D.C. was our cubicle,” he said. “[As interns,] we never got our own office.”

Pedreira cited The Elliott School’s study abroad programs as an opportunity that proved invaluable. The world, he said, is “one giant classroom,” from chances to work with experts in the field to studying “African wildlife – or the even wilder European nightlife.”

He also asked the Class of 2015 to continue to surround themselves with people “wisely” and to remember the positive impact they could have on the world around them.

“It’s been a privilege to learn alongside you,” he said.

2. Flipping the script

Brown took a leaf out of “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart’s book during his address to the graduates.

Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

Dean Michael Brown, who will step down at the end of June, told graduates that it’s good to have plans and goals, but life does not have a script. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

Brown, who will step down on June 30, brought a short stack of blank printer paper to the podium and a few minutes into his keynote address to about five thousand, tore them up.

“There is no script for the next ten minutes, two hours or for 2015. There’s no script for life,” he said.

Instead of wishing the graduates luck in their professional endeavors, Brown wished them “love, friendship and happiness.”

After graduates received their degrees, which will be conferred on Sunday, Brown took a moment to honor Ben Cumbo, an Elliot School student who died on April 21 after completing his last degree requirement. Cumbo, who had muscular dystrophy, died the day he received his cap and gown in the mail, Brown said.

3. Guided by a moral compass

Edward Gnehm, a former ambassador to Kuwait, Australia and Jordan, spoke about the difference between a politician and a statesman. He said a statesman, like Margaret Thatcher, was guided by a moral compass.

He encouraged graduates to call upon their values as they move into jobs in their areas of interest, and he also told them to “never lose your vision.”

Like these photos? You can purchase your personal photo from this graduation ceremony online at:

  • Permalink
  • Comments

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Madelyne Ashworth.

The president of the Council on Foreign Relations think tank spoke about current events overseas and his career in international affairs on campus Thursday

Richard Haass, the former senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council, came to the Elliott School of International Affairs for the event.

Elliott School Dean Michael Brown moderated the discussion, which was part of a series called “Leadership in International Affairs: Lessons Learned” that invites prominent government and policy leaders to talk about their experiences.

Here are the highlights:

1. A “failed region”

Hassas said the United States’ relationship with Israel was complex and affected by other difficulties in the region, including issues with ISIS.

Haass said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent peace talks will be productive, but acknowledged the potential for disaster and possible “spill over” conflicts in Israel, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region.

“Things have to get worse before they get worse,” he said. “These things only end when outsiders impose or things just burn out… I see this going on for some time.”

2. The U.S. is unique diplomatically

Haass said U.S. relations with both allies and adversaries are in a unique situation, as the United States has found itself in a diplomatic paradox.

He explained that “alliance relationships” need certain levels of predictability. But the nature of the alliances cause difficulties in relationships with countries in conflict with current U.S. allies, including China and Israel, he said.

“This is an extraordinarily difficult period of diplomacy in the operational sense and foreign policy in the conceptual sense,” Haass said.

3. The key to leadership is ensuring plans become reality

Leaders with innovative roles often forget that while creating policy ideas is essential, implementing those policies is even more crucial, as Haass advises future leaders to first remember their role as administrators.

“Eighty percent of life is implementation,” Haass said, adding that forgetting to ensure ideas and policies are feasible can be destructive.

“The biggest mistake of smart people is they think that coming up with the right or best answer is essentially their work, and then they can leave it to others to do it,” he said. “That is the single worst idea you will ever have.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Monday, Dec. 29, 2014 11:23 p.m.

The biggest story lines to follow in 2015

In the last year, GW sent the men’s basketball team to the NCAA tournament, launched a $1 billion fundraising campaign and welcomed Stephen Colbert and President Barack Obama to campus during finals week. And in D.C., the city voted for a new mayor and to legalize marijuana.

Here’s a look at what we think is sure to make headlines in 2015:

1. Now hiring

Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Michael Morsberger stepped down in October. Hatchet File Photo.

Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Michael Morsberger stepped down in October. Hatchet File Photo.

GW always seems to be hiring, and 2015 doesn’t look to be any different. Officials are searching for leaders of two schools – the Elliott School of International Affairs and the School of Nursing – after their deans stepped down in the fall.

Mary Jean Schumann, the interim senior associate dean of academic affairs in the nursing school, will take over Jan. 1 until a permanent leader is picked and replaces former dean Jean Johnson. Provost Steven Lerman said in December that the search for the new dean is wrapping up, though the search committee has kept details quiet since it formed last year.

Dean Michael Brown will step down from his position this spring after leading the Elliott School for a decade. He is the last dean appointed by former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg.

The University is also searching for someone to spearhead its $1 billion fundraising campaign after former Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Mike Morsberger left at the end of October.

2. Open for business

Campus favorite Captain Cookie will open a store in The Shops at 2000 Penn. Hatchet File Photo

Campus favorite Captain Cookie will open a store in The Shops at 2000 Penn. Hatchet File Photo

GW students will get to spend time in some brand new spaces in 2015.

The Colonial Health Center will open on campus Jan. 5 after students pushed to bring health services closer to where they live and study. The space will bring Student Health Service and the University Counseling Center to the Marvin Center and link them with the Center for Alcohol and other Drug Education.

On a sweeter note, student favorite Captain Cookie will set up shop at 2000 Pennsylvania Ave., filling the void left by ice cream parlor Cone E. Island, which closed last spring.

3. Classes in the most expensive academic building on campus

The Science and Engineering Hall will open in January. File photo by Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The Science and Engineering Hall will open in January. File Photo by Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The $275 million Science and Engineering Hall, the crown jewel of GW’s construction blitz, will open for classes and research in January.

That opening hasn’t come easy for GW. Officials revamped their plan to pay for the building in November after acknowledging for the first time that the original payment scheme would not work.

GW will count on rent from high-end commercial properties at The Avenue to make up about $250 million, after officials weren’t able to fundraise enough money to cover construction costs.

The building will also have a tenant who’s no stranger to GW: Celebrity chef José Andrés will use retail space on the ground floor for a veggie-based eatery called “Beefsteak.” Andrés headlined University-wide Commencement in May 2014.

4. Campus security updates

UPD, university police

The University Police Department is up for an accreditation review, which could be tested by pending complaints. Hatchet File Photo

There could be a lot in store for the University Police Department over the next year. Officials are looking for a police chief after the department’s former leader, Kevin Hay, retired suddenly last semester.

UPD is up for an accreditation review and could lose its high marks if accreditors are concerned about three complaints filed against the department since March for gender-based, racial or age-based discrimination.

Officials will also release the results of a campus climate survey in the upcoming semester, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Terri Harris Reed said at December’s Faculty Senate meeting. The anonymous survey, which was conducted last spring, asked students whether they felt safe on campus or had ever engaged in sexual misconduct.

Issuing an anonymous climate survey is one of several benchmarks that a White House task force has touted as an effective way to prevent sexual assault on college campuses.

5. Steps forward for peer counseling

Student Association President Nick Gumas pushed for a peer counseling program at the Board of Trustees meeting in October. Hatchet file photo by Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Student Association President Nick Gumas pushed for a peer counseling program at the Board of Trustees meeting in October. Hatchet File Photo by Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

A peer counseling program, one of the key areas of focus for Student Association President Nick Gumas, could move forward in 2015.

Gumas pushed for the program at a Board of Trustees meeting in October, though administrators have not yet formally committed to the idea. Details still to be decided include creating a training program for students and finding space to house the call center.

  • Permalink
  • Comments